Christmas in Michigan

We flew to Wisconsin, rather than driving, this year.  The boys and I weren’t thrilled about it, as we cherish road trips, audiobooks, and we especially love getting to stop in to see Grandpa Russ on our way home.  On the day of our flight, my mom asked if we had left for the airport yet and this was my response from our uber:

Micah was my seat partner on the plane.  We spent some time listening to our separate audiobooks, but mostly talked and looked out the window.

We landed just in time to get to see Ivan’s Christmas program!  SO thankful we were there in time.  It was precious!

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The following day (well, it ended up being night due to drama with our rental car), we drove to Michigan to spend the weekend with our extended family.

Michigan was filled with enjoying time with our family at the retreat cabins.  It’s such a fun spot and allows for games, sports, hikes, good conversations and lots of yummy food.  I count on my Dad to capture our time together, so I didn’t take a lot of pictures.  But here’s what I took:

That picture of a bunch of people was from a hike I went on and we were laughing so hard about the “views”.  Let’s just say this hike was done for the company, not the views.  More pictures to come from my Dad’s camera.  Those will be much better. =D

Advent Activities

We enjoyed another fun and reflective Advent season.  This year we read “Ishtar’s Odyssey” which is a fictionalized story of what the magi may have experienced on their quest to find the newborn king.

Some of our favorite activities/activities that I took pictures of included:

  • Drinking hot cocoa while reading the Christmas story from the Bible
  • Family sleepover and Christmas movie
  • Christmas art class
  • Christmas lights drive
  • Picnic by the tree
  • Red and green meal
  • Darkest night meal by candlelight
  • White winter breakfast
  • Put up snowflakes
  • Sing in nursing home
  • Ice cream sundaes on Sunday
  • Decorate Christmas cookies
  • Shepherds Meal

For unto YOU a child is born!

Celebrating Micah

Micah turned 8 in early December and loved every minute of all that attention. =D We celebrated early with a Skype call with Grandma Cleve to open his present and then just kept right on celebrating.  We had waffles in the morning for breakfast, opened presents (he’s a total ham and appreciated all of the cards, gifts, and videos he received throughout the day), had a friend over for cake and playing and then finished the night with dinner out at the Melting Pot.  He was pretty jazzed all.day.long.

Here was the final picture we took of Micah as a 7 year old!  How is this happening so fast?!

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Grandpa’s Visit

Mike had another two weeks of travel at the beginning of our school year, so we flew my Dad out to help again.  I was so thankful to have his company and help.  And the boys LOVE spending time with him. We had a softer start to the school year, but still got a lot done in that first week.

We also did some homeschooling on the road – a bike ride and a field trip to Hudson Gardens.

On Saturday, we jogged/walked in a 5k run that our friends put on each year in honor of their daughter who was adopted from China, had congenital heart problems, and died after surgery. It’s a fundraiser for third world orphans with medical problems.  Three kids, in three different countries, will get operations because of the money raised in this run.

Our church service was held in the mountains on Sunday.  We enjoyed the service there, a picnic, and then had some time to play.

Monday was our second week of CC and Mike was back home.  We did our family presentation during opening assembly and then my Dad got to go back and forth between Ethan and Micah’s classes.  That evening Micah had his soccer practice and we all went to watch.

Here are a couple other pictures from throughout his visit and of Mike and his buddies on his trip:

My Dad left on Tuesday morning after a wonderful trip.  We sure loved having him for the week!  When we dropped him off at the airport the boys both said they wished he (and grandma, obviously) lived out here by us. =D

Grandma Cleve’s Visit!

Soon thereafter, we had the pleasure of hosting Grandma Cleve for about a week.  We timed her trip with my Lasik eye surgery, so she was a huge help to me while I recuperated.  This means, though, that I didn’t take as many pictures as I usually would from our adventures. =/ Adventures included visiting Bookies (a bookstore we love!), Chipotle and a concert in the park, a trip to the big coin store, visiting with family that live here (Great Aunt Terri and cousin Lindsey), celebrating Christmas in July and also Mike’s birthday.

Oh, and I had surgery:

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Thanks for coming out again, Grandma Cleve!!  We sure loved having you!

Jess in ATL

When Mike and I were chatting about summer plans, I was feeling overwhelmed at the many trips we wanted to cram into the three months.  He brilliantly came up with the plan to combine some of the trips.  So, while Mike and Micah enjoyed their one-on-one trip, I took Ethan to Milwaukee to meet up with my parents for their trip (more on that in a separate post) and I continued onward to Atlanta to help my sister at her trade show.

Jen and I had a great time together, as usual.  And I helped with the take down of the booth, without Jennie for the first time.

I spent my evenings catching up with my friends and seeing Ashley and the boys (since they live there now)!  That was a lovely treat!   I also managed to get in a couple FaceTime visits with the boys to see how their trips were going.

It was a great trip to Atlanta for me!

Part 2: Wisconsin

We stayed in Wisconsin at my parents’ house (most of that time they were off gallivanting with my sister and her family in Europe, so you won’t see many pictures of any of them) for the next two and a half weeks.  Part of that time Mike was in Minneapolis, but most of it he was also in Wisconsin working from home.  The highlights are too many to count on this portion of the trip, but I especially loved being near my brother and his family to spend every-day-life time with them.

We’ll start with pictures from the first few days while my parents were still in town:

Jen and J gave Ethan the birthday gift of going to Hamilton in Chicago with them.  He did a little preparing for it.  And then I drove down and babysat Salina while they went to the show.  We left the following morning after a little time with the family.  Ethan had a great time and now added two songs from the show to his playlist.

Meanwhile:

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We had a lot of FUN hang out time with the cousins (time at the house, walks, zoo, baseball game, lots of games, and bike races – “Go, Bikes, Go!!!”) :

And we did a few things on our own as a family, like golfing and biking (family met us at the beach after one such ride).  Micah and I also went on a hike on our own one day.  And we visited the lighthouse where Mike’s grandpa used to live and work:

I took the boys on a couple little excursions – Jelly Belly tour and Mars Cheese Castle – and also went on a number of bike rides:

We also really enjoyed getting to see our extended family.  We spent a day at Petrifying Springs with Uncle Brad, Aunt Sal, and cousin Luke (along with my brother’s family, of course!!).  It was fabulous!  Aunt Sal also came by another day to let Micah take Eli for a walk!

Each year we plan a trip with the Maurer clan and this summer was no different, except that they had just had their third sweet baby girl, so we opted for something a little easier.  We spent two days with them at my parents’ house, just soaking up time together and catching up.  It was really fun to see the kids connecting again!  Sadly, we forgot to take a whole group shot!!

We LOVED our time in Wisconsin!  So thankful that we got to spend so much time with the people that we love!